One of the biggest challenges faced by the state government in fighting the corona pandemic is of increasing the speed of sample testing of RNA extract for COVID-19. It is expected to catch up with coming of Nextractor machines from Korea this month.
The sixteen most modern and latest machines for RNA sample testing made in Korea are expected this month. Two more testing machines to be donated by the Aziz Premji Foundation will be added to government’s facilities this month.
“The Nextractor machines are expected to be delivered this month. These machines are considered to be the most efficient globally,” said Sanjay Shukla, principal secretary, medical education. The Nextractor conducts 48 extractions in ten minutes.
Another USP of the machine is that it is fully automated and easy to operate- even without training. It can operate on pre-programmed and user-define protocols.
State government has got more than 90,000 samples tested till now. The testing capacity in MP has been raised from about 300 tests per day to 4000 tests at present. All seventeen testing laboratories are working full time in Madhya Pradesh, despite that about 1000 samples are being sent out of MP for testing.
In another development, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Bhopal is also doubling its testing capacity to about 1000 tests per day. Here additional automated extraction machines are being installed, confirmed director AIIMS, Sarman Singh. As soon as the guidelines for using pooled samples for molecular testing of COVID-19 arrives, targeted testing and surveillance in low endemic areas would begin, he added.
A pooled testing algorithm involves the PCR screening of a specimen pool comprising multiple individual patient specimens, followed by individual testing (pool deconvolution) only if a pool screens positive. As all individual samples in a negative pool are regarded as negative, it results in substantial cost savings when a large proportion of pools tests negative.